All Blacks seek improvement against fired-up French

The All Blacks have been warned not to be seduced by their runaway win in the first Test against France
AFP

Wellington (AFP) – The All Blacks have been warned not to be seduced by their runaway win in the first Test as the wounded French bring in reinforcements for the second Test in Wellington on Saturday.

While All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he would “probably” stick with the same line up, his French counterpart Jacques Brunel is expected to make wholesale changes after their hiding in Auckland.

“I hope we will be able to show something else, to be close till the end. I am convinced that will be achieved if we fix our communication problems in defence,” Brunel said as both sides began preparations on Monday for the second Test.

“They’ll be hurting,” Hansen noted. “If we were in their shoes we’d certainly be turning up with a fairly staunch attitude and a willingness to really give it a crack and I’m sure that’s what they will do.” 

While Brunel put the focus on the French defence, Hansen highlighted the restart and running lines as obvious areas for the All Blacks to work on.

“We could get seduced by that scoreline, or understand there’s more in our game that we’ve got to get better at and have a real good week’s preparation,” he said.

Hansen described the way the All Blacks handled the restarts during the eight-tries-to-one romp in Auckland as “pretty ugly”, while getting the running line “a bit squarer would be nice”.

Brunel said that before deciding on his second Test line-up he would take a close look at the freshness “mentally and physically” of new arrivals Benjamin Fall, Mathieu Babillot and Kelian Galletier, who played in the Top 14 final between Castres and Montpellier nine days ago. 

Fall, an outside utility back with 10 Tests to his name, could replace either injured wing Remy Grosso or fullback Maxime Medard.

Galletier and Babillot would by vying for a berth in the loose forwards where the French back three Judicael Cancoriet, Fabien Sanconnie and Kevin Gourdon fell off the pace when the All Blacks ramped up the speed of their game in the second half.

Wesley Fofana, if he recovers from his knee injury, would likely join captain Mathieu Bastareaud in the centres. 

“There are a lot of problems but the first one is to fix our communication on defence,” Brunel said.

“It is not a lost cause. We know the quality of the All Blacks but I emphasise that we made it much too easy for them and 70 percent of their tries came from only two or three passes.”

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